Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Tomorrow is the day we celebrate love.  Some will do it with candy and flowers, others with dinner and, perhaps, dancing. Some will set the stage with candle light and romantic music. And, of course, we will exchange the valentine cards that express the love that we may not have verbalized throughout the year.

There are many famous sayings that define love, holding it up for us to examine like a prism in the sun.

Ø  Love is a many splendored thing, according to the song sung by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams and others-- the song featured in the 1955 film, of the same name, starring Jennifer Jones and William Holden.

Ø  Love is a two-way street, at least that’s where we find love, according the 1968 R&B hit by the Moments.

Ø  Love is in the eye of the beholder. (Oh no—that’s beauty—but isn’t it true of love, as well?)

Ø  Love means never having to say you are sorry, according to Ali MacGraw in  Love Story. I never agreed with that one.  To me, love means saying you are sorry alot.

Ø  And then there is the classic definition that insists love is a verb and is defined by what it does. This familiar passage from 1 Corinthians is often chosen by brides to be read at their wedding.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

 These familiar statements are similar to Augustine’s writing strategy, existential sentences or definitions .  The idea is to create a sentence defining an abstract concept— like love---using concrete description and active words, zooming in on the important elements and characteristics, to create a vivid image and bring the abstract concept to life

 For example, Love is sitting side by side, shoulder to shoulder, watching a purple and pink    sunset in silence, because each knows what the other would say, if words were necessary.
Love is pouring ourselves into the empty glass that is held by our beloved to slake the thirst that only we can quench

Love means many things to different people.   But it always involves giving of self

The stories we love best include that kind of love, where someone is giving his everything for someone, to someone. All my favorite books and movies are that way. Each time I watch A Walk in the Clouds I think---Wow! How he loves her. 

 We all want to be that couple - the couple that seems to have that amazing kind of love. 
 We want to have what they have--but we don’t always remember that in order to have that love we must first give that love.

 In O.Henry’s story, The Gift of the Magi, each spouse gives up what is most important to buy a gift for the other.Don’t we all want that O-Henry-Magi-Gift kind of love?

And of course, when we want to speak of our love, poetry is the language we use (and we may supplement it with a love letter.)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning ‘s poem, How Do I Love Thee? is one of the most well-known love poems.  In it, she helps us to count the ways we love.

There are lots of books that teach us about love and show us remarkable and deep love.
There are books that show us parent-child love, husband -wife love, family love, love in the face of trials and dangers.

Here are several of my favorites.

Books for Children

Books for Adults

Celebrate this Valentine’s Day by rereading or reading for the first time one of these books.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Love is in the air
Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

Today’s Deeper Writing Possibility

How does love make you feel? As you give love? As you receive love?
What does the storybook love look like that you have been waiting for all of your life?
What is missing from the love you are giving?  Receiving?

Write several definitions of love in several different genres or forms of writing.
What other genre or writing form will best describe your love?
Write  a poem or letter.

Write an existential sentence defining love.

What did you learn about love in the process of writing?


Augustine, D. (1975). The existential sentence: Opulence is having the Vienna Boys’ Choir sing “ Happy Birthday” to me.  In W. Sparke ( Ed.), Prisms: A self reader ( pp. 66-69). New York, NY: Harper’s College Press.

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